Tag: av geek

Can you see it, can you see it?

Can you see it, can you see it?

Peru

Yesterday we went on a flight over the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Nazca lines, 400 km south of Lima. It was advertised as every person gets a window seat. Yes, that’s because there are only twelve seats in the entire plane. They had to weigh each of the passengers before we boarded so that they could distribute us evenly. Don’t worry, we were told, we won’t tell anybody, your weight will be like the secret of the ancient Nazca lines themselves. Well thanks.

The Nazca lines were amazing. Enormous, distinct, intricate, mysterious. But what really made our day was our *pilot, Carlos.

Now I’m sure that Carlos flies this little tourist route at least three times a day, seven days a week. But he is not bored with his job, oh no siree. He is loving his job.

After taking off we fly for 30 minutes before descending towards Nazca.

“Now, the first picture we’ll see is the whale,” Carlos announces before suddenly banking.

“Can you see it, can you see it, can you see it?” he squeals excitedly through the intercom, “can you see the whale?”

The plane is now banked at an alarming near 90 degrees, with everybody on the left side of the plane facing the earth. We’re circling downwards towards the desert sands, and I am not looking for any drawing of a whale, I’m clutching either side of my seat and praying that we don’t tilt any further.

It becomes apparent that Carlos will continue to circle sideways until he is assured that all six people on the left side of the plane have seen the whale. He’s paying no attention to the controls, rather he is facing back to us, grinning and waving his hands.

“Can you see it?” he asks again. And at the last minute I spot it, the perfect drawing of a whale.

“Sí, sí, sí!” six of us yell over the noise of the engine.

Carlos gives us the thumbs up, pleased.

“Ok, and now for the right side,” and suddenly the plane circles in a figure of eight and I am sideways again but looking at clear blue sky while Don is now below me staring down at the sand. Carlos repeats the routine with these right side passengers until all have confirmed seeing the whale, and we straighten up and head towards the next design.

“And now the astronaut,” announces Carlos, “he is special because he is the only one on the side of a mountain.”

And thus we begin circling sideways and downwards, in our little tin can plane, towards the side of a mountain.

“Do you see him? Do you see the astronaut?”

“Sí, sí,” yell just five people on my side of the plane, as one lady is now quite green and unable to yell anything, “please stop plummeting towards the mountain!”

Ok, so none of us actually yell this last bit, but you can’t tell me we weren’t all thinking it. Especially the lady who is green.

And now it’s Don’s turn to face the mountain.

Through the sky we fly for the next 30 minutes, Carlos banking, circling and plummeting as though he’s piloting a remote controlled aircraft, and all of his passengers yelling sí, sí at the tops of our voices and holding our thumbs up the second we recognise the monkey, the parrot, the hummingbird and the rest of the patterns.

It’s a good thing these ancient lines are so fascinating. Once I start focusing on looking for the patterns, I forget I’m on a roller coaster ride and the only thing holding me in place is a flimsy seatbelt.

Although Carlos isn’t helping. He’s delighted at every tilt and turn and every design, laughing with us (or perhaps at us), and finding the Nazca lines and his passengers much more entertaining than the actual controls of his aeroplane. It’s like this is his very first time flying.

Although thank-you God that I’m only thinking this right now.

*actually co-pilot

Around again

Around again

Everybody knows that when you return from a ridiculously awesome holiday, the first thing you do is start planning your next holiday. It’s a somewhat useless tactic designed to distract you from the fact that you’re back in your real world with your real job and your real responsibilities.

To be honest, I was ok going back to work. I love my job and get on famously with the people I work with. Plus I had a bazillion stories to tell – so many that I’ve begun noticing people ducking through doorways when they see me approaching. No matter, they’ll keep.

Our trip was so immense it did take us a little while to begin working on the next one. We’d been home for almost as long as we’d been away before we started considering our options. We don’t have 99 days this time, we only have 16, so it would need to be a short flight to an easy destination.

Now, the thing is, when you’ve been 99 days around the world, covered three continents, seen sunshine, snow and autumn leaves and gazed at twenty-seven different versions of Water Lilies, it’s very difficult to choose your next adventure.

”Somewhere relaxing,” I suggested, “Hawaii? Fiji?”

Neither of us could work up the enthusiasm.

“Somewhere in Australia? Tasmania? Broome? Adelaide? Uluru? Darwin?”

Maybe?

I switched tactics.

“How about somewhere we’ve been before? Sri Lanka? Japan? Malaysia? Vietnam?” Less effort, and all places we’ve said we’d like to go back to.

”Those are possibilities,” said Don. Now we were getting somewhere.

”Which one?”

”Ummm…”

We discussed a fishing holiday, a road trip, a staycation. Camping at the beach. Returning to Singapore seeing as I’d spent the whole time sick in the hotel room last trip.

We stopped thinking about it for short periods of time, only to suddenly circle back with new suggestions.

And finally, after taking into consideration that we don’t have much time, we don’t want to fly too far, we don’t want to spend too much money and we really just need somewhere to relax, we’ve booked our holiday.

We’re going to Peru.

Three visit the Air and Space Museum

Three visit the Air and Space Museum

Washington DC

Our friend Gab has joined us in DC; she too is an aeroplane geek. So it was always going to be a big day when two aviation geeks and a space science nerd went to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

There are two ways to approach the Air and Space Museum.

Gab and I were starstruck, and a little confused at first, starting at the wrong end of the space race and working our way backwards from the moon landing. We soon got our bearings and marvelled and admired every slick, gorgeous piece of aeronautic machinery that we approached. We were amazed and bedazzled as any true plane spotter would be, overwhelmed by rockets, planes and spacecraft. Gab said “Beautiful” a lot, I said “Wow” a lot.

And then there was Don.

We lost him immediately on entry, spotting him every now and then as he darted between rockets and satellites. But a pattern soon emerged. As Gab and I wound our way through the displays, looking up, looking down, Don would suddenly appear in front of us at random moments.

“Oh my God,” he exclaimed at one point, “it’s a V2! Do you know what that is?”

“A V2?” I suggested.

“It’s a V2! Let me tell you about the V2…” and then he was gone.

And then he was back.

“Is that what I think it is?” he bounded across to a spacey looking spherical object.

“The Death Star?” asked Gab, only half joking.

“It’s the Telstar! Let me tell you about the Telstar….” and then he was gone.

And then he was back.

“Do you know how long I’ve wanted to see the original 1903 Wright Flyer?”

“Ever since you were a…”

“Ever since I was a little boy…” and then he was gone.

Back and forth as though attached to us by an elastic band.

It was one of the best museums any of us had ever been to. So much to see that by the end of our visit, Gab and I had walked roughly 37km.

And Don had run 163.